Did you see this story? It makes me so angry. Basically, a 9-year-old boy with autism was put in a duffel bag and closed in after – now get this – being told to put down a ball, throwing it across the room. And his punishment was being put in a bag? His mother was called to school because he was “acting out.” I’m sorry, but what world do these educators live in. Throwing a ball? Maybe if he threw a computer, or a ceramic cup. But a ball?
Anyone who works with kids with autism knows that self-control is a problem, at times. But, in my opinion, this was such a minor thing. I am certain that there were much larger issues that the child had and that there were other battles to be fought. Not the battle of throwing a ball.
But I just wonder . . . were the educators putting him in the bag for punishment? Or were they attempting to provide sensory input? Let me explain. Body socks are therapeutic devices used to help kids with sensory issues (usually something that kids with autism struggle with). They are made of Lycra or Spandex. They can provide, when used properly, kids with autism a way to learn body awareness. They can be calming. They also can help provide deep pressure input.
If this is what the educators were attempting, and I’m not certain that they were (it is only a guess on my part – and the only way that I can make sense of this), what were they thinking? A duffel bag? That is nothing like Lyrca or Spandex. A body sock is designed to enclose a child. A duffel bag is not.
As a paraprofessional, I’ve used a body sock with students. It was always a choice – do you want to go in the body sock or do you want to sit on the couch to calm down? If a child said, “no.” Then the answer was no. Sometimes a student would go into the body sock and we would use a large exercise ball to provide pressure. Many kids with autism don’t understand where their bodies are in space, so a body sock can help with that.
It is obvious, to me, that these educators are sadly lacking training. Training in child development, natural consequences, positive reinforcement and working with kids who have significant special needs. It is a wonder how they ended up in a classroom teaching students. And it makes me ill.
In my 4+ years working with kids with significant special needs, I have had to restrain children. But before I was allowed to restrain a child, I had to be trained. Then restraints could only be used if the child was a danger to himself or someone else. Danger to property was not a consideration – unless by damaging property they would cause physical harm.
A body sock is not restraint. It is a therapeutic device that should be used voluntarily by a child. Ours had Velcro so that the child could decide when they were ready to come out. But putting a child in a duffel bag, not allowing them to choose when they will come out, is criminal.